Commoners became royalty in a day. Just as a commoner can become a king in this present life, so can an ordinary person become a Buddha instantly. This is the heart of the doctrine of three thousand realms in a single moment of life.
How, then, can we obtain this benefit? Should we peel off our skins as the ascetic Aspiration for the Law did, follow the boy Snow Mountains’ example and offer our bodies to a demon, or emulate Bodhisattva Medicine King in burning our arms? As the Great Teacher Chang-an stated, “You should let your choices be fitting and never adhere solely to one or the other.” The practice we should perform in order to master the correct teaching and attain Buddhahood depends upon the times. If there were no paper in Japan, then you should peel off your skin. If the Lotus Sutra had not yet been introduced to our country and a single demon were to appear who knew it, then you should offer your body to him. If there were no oil available in our country, then you should burn your arms. But of what use is it to peel off our skin when the country has an abundant supply of heavy paper?
Hsüan-tsang journeyed throughout India in search of the Buddha’s teachings for seventeen years, covering a distance of a hundred thousand ri. Dengyo remained in T’ang China for only two years, but he traveled three thousand ri across the billowing sea to get there. These were all men, ancients, worthies, and sages. Never have I heard of a woman who journeyed a thousand ri in search of Buddhism as you did. True, the dragon king’s daughter attained enlightenment without chang
ing her present form, and the nun Mahaprajapati received a prediction that she would become a Buddha in the future. I am not certain, but they may have been female forms assumed by Buddhas or bodhisattvas. After all, those events occurred in the Buddha’s lifetime.
The character of man and woman differs from the outset. Fire is hot, and water, cold. Fishermen are skilled in catching fish, and hunters are proficient in trapping deer. A sutra states that women are clever at being jealous, but I have never heard that women are clever at Buddhism. A woman’s mind is compared to a refreshing breeze; even if one could bind the wind, it would be hard to grasp a woman’s mind. A woman’s mind is likened to writing on water because the characters do not remain on the surface. A woman is likened to a liar, for sometimes a liar’s words are true, and sometimes, false. A woman’s mind is compared to a river, for all rivers bend.
The Lotus Sutra, however, contains such phrases as “honestly discarding expedient means,” “all that you [Shakyamuni] have expounded is the truth,” “honest and upright, gentle in intent,” and “gentle, peaceful, honest, and upright.” Those who believe in this sutra, therefore, must have minds that are as straight as a taut bowstring or a carpenter’s inking line. One may call dung sandalwood, but it will not have the sandalwood’s fragrance. A liar never becomes a truthful person simply because one calls him honest. All the sutras are the Buddha’s golden teachings, his true words. When compared with the Lotus Sutra, however, they are false, flattering, abusive, or doubletongued. The Lotus Sutra alone is the truth of truths. Only honest people can keep faith in this sutra, a teaching free from all falsehood